Glasgow’s Gilded Age Project, 2015

The Glasgow’s Gilded Age Project highlights those Glasgow designers who originally established the city’s reputation at the time of the Aesthetic Movement and Mark Twain’s so called Gilded Age. Glasgow’s international reputation for design and manufacture sprang forth from the city’s industries, as well as its educational institutions, and its influence spread across the globe through trade.  This laid the foundation for Glasgow’s inimitable ‘style’.

This project aims to create long-term beneficial partnerships within educational and heritage institutions who will encourage crucial research related to topics like those discussed today. We already have the support of our speakers; from the Glasgow School of Art, the National Trust of Scotland, and even from further afield, the Victoria & Albert Museum, London. We want to promote Glasgow as a centre for cultural tourism, highlighting what the city already has to offer visitors and locals alike. We aim to re-evaluate Glasgow’s design history, and elevate the status of the movers and shakers who helped to propel Glasgow to the its place as the second city of the empire.


The Glasgow’s Gilded Age (1864 -1914): Glamour & Grit conference was held on the 8th May 2015 at Cottiers Theatre in Glasgow’s West End. The conference was an exciting introduction to the period, the academics who study it, and the legacy it has left behind. The conference was far more than a one day event; it signified the beginning of what we hope will be a new movement celebrating this period of Glasgow’s history, and promoting Glasgow’s industrial and artistic heritage, for without one there could not be the other, the glamour and the grit.

Between 1864 and 1914 Glasgow was a thriving centre for design and innovation in industries as varied as textile manufacture and shipbuilding. The techniques and skills learnt by the workers and designers in these industries directly affected the art produced in the city. The individuals who gained financially from this boom, the shipping magnates and ironworks owners, were able to spend lavishly on buildings, art, and furnishing their homes, advertising not only their personal wealth and style, but also Glasgow’s. This led to Glasgow becoming a producer and educator of all things aesthetically pleasing and functional.

Alf. A. Webster: Glasgow's Lost Genius

On the 6th November 2015, we celebrated the Centenary of Alfred Alexander Webster (1883-1915), stained glass artist and master-craftsman, through a one day conference at Webster’s Theatre in Glasgow’s West End.

In 1903, Alf registered for evening classes at the Glasgow School of Art and took a variety of courses including architectural modelling and stained glass, later switching to drawing and painting. It was the study of glass painting and the creation of stained glass windows which would eventually hold his attention.  The skills he learned from life drawing classes would transfer into his windows, Webster is well-known for his ability to create incredibly detailed and emotive human faces.

Webster’s career was drastically cut short by the outbreak of the Great War in 1914. Webster sustained serious injuries on patrol duty on the night of the 16th August 1915. Despite ten operations he died of his wounds on the 24th August 1915.

The conference celebrated Alf’s tragically short life, and incredible artistic output, to give him the recognition he deserves as an important Glasgow artist and craftsman.

  • All
  • Alf Webster
  • Glamour & Grit
Glamour & Grit: The Grammar of Glamour: Glasgow Style, Dr Robyne Erica Calvert
Glamour & Grit: Holmwood House, Ian Gow
Glamour & Grit: Glasgow in the 1860s and the beginning of ‘a better condition of things in Scotland as regards stained glass’, Dr Sally Rush
Glamour & Grit: Gilding the lily – Daniel Cottier and the Aesthetic Interior, Max Donnelly
Glamour & Grit: Carpets of Distinction, Dr Helena Britt
Glamour & Grit: A Solid Background, Professor John Hume
Glamour & Grit : The Glasgow Architectural Ironfounders – Innovation & Global Reach, Dr David Mitchell
Alf Webster: It’s All About Alf, Karen Mailley-Watt
Alf Webster: Glasgow’s Lost Genius, Professor Robin Webster OBE
Alf Webster: Glasgow’s Lost Genius, Prof John Hume
Alf Webster: Glasgow’s Lost Genius, Peter Aiers
Alf Webster: Glasgow’s Lost Genius, Gordon Urquhart
Alf Webster: Glasgow’s Lost Genius, Dr George Rawson
Alf Webster: Glasgow’s Lost Genius, Discussion
Alf Webster: Glasgow’s Lost Genius, David Robertson
Alf Webster: G(l)azing into the world of Stained Glass Conservation, Meredith Macbeth